The Diary

Belieber in Yeshua

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2011

Pintsized popstar Justin Bieber may have left Israel with more than some sand in his suitcase. The teenage singer, who delighted fans with a concert in Tel Aviv last month, was recently spotted sporting a new tattoo in Ivrit. The tattoo, on his left ribcage, is of the Hebrew word Yeshua, translated into English as Jesus.

Justin is a devout Christian, but his manager Scooter Braun is Jewish.

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Unlikely Freemason

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2011

A Greek Orthodox Palestinian Arab freemason has been installed in Tel Aviv as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Israel.

According to the British magazine 'Freemasonry Today', Haifa-born Nadim Mansour will be in the position until 2013.

The Grand Lodge of Israel has about 1,299 freemason members in 56 lodges, working in 10 languages and has members of five different religions.

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Birbeck College Zionists

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2011

Birkbeck College, University of London was one the key players in the NUS' new boycott of Israel, seems to have had a pleasing change of heart. One reader spotted posters for Arts Week with a picture of Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky emblazoned on the posters.

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A naughty neurotic success

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2011

For the past week, itunes' audiobook fiction chart for the UK has been headed by Sue Margolis and her raunchy comedy of north London Jewish life, Neurotica.

The tale of the extramarital adventures of a suburban wife exasperated at her hypochondriac husband, originally appeared in print 16 years ago: since the audiobook's release, Margolis said, "It's gone ballistic".

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Ed's dinner with chief

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2011

The Chief Rabbi - whose riposte to Richard Dawkins, The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning, is out next month - has been keeping up to speed with politics. His dinner guests this month included opposition leader Ed Miliband and founder of "Blue Labour" Lord Glasman.

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How the author won a pig

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2011

Congratulations to Gary Shteyngart, the first American winner of the annual Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.

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Lanzmann in London

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2011

Claude Lanzmann will be in London next month for an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of his monumental Holocaust documentary, Shoah. The French director will answer questions after a screening of the nine-and-a-half-hour epic at London's Open City Festival. Pity it is on a Saturday, though.

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Davening for the detectives

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2011

There are many rich and varied blessings in the prayerbook for all sorts of occasions, such as seeing a rainbow, hearing thunder or meeting a monarch.

But now comes another - on making a film. When two years ago director Elliot Lester started shooting Blitz, about a serial cop-killer at loose in London, released this week, he called in a little spiritual help.

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Prosor, the prince of puns

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

Ron Prosor's penchant for puns will no doubt tax his translators at the United Nations when he takes up his new role there as Israel's envoy next month.

He was certainly quick with the quips at one of his final appearances as London ambassador, at the Bicom Israel advocacy conference on Sunday.

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Serenading the kibbutzniks

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

X Factor contestant Mary Byrne, from Dublin, was the guest of honour at an Israeli embassy reunion in London for kibbutz volunteers to mark the centenary of the collective movement.

She sang for guests, who were served their meals in a room mocked up as a kibbutz dining hall, and said that her year at Kibbutz Geva had "opened her mind to a world of peace".

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